I Have Started Going Through the KonMari Method, Part 3 (Final)

This is continued from Part 2.

Hey, you removed the “(Not Really)” from the title. Does that mean you’ve really started this KonMari nonsense?

Yes, I have definitely started the KonMari path. I have finished selecting which socks, T-shirts, and pants I am going to keep.

How many are you going to keep?

13 pairs of socks, 8 T-shirts, and 5 pairs of pants. But those numbers won’t stay fixed because a) clothes eventually wear out and b) I may choose to add to this collection.

How many of those T-shits are ace T-shirts?

Two of them. I was originally planning to let go of one of them because I didn’t like that it was mostly white, but instead I mixed tara powder and iron sulfate to dye it purple. I like the purple color much better, so I’m keeping it.

This is what the t-shirt looked like before I dyed it.

This is what the t-shirt looks like now.

How many of those clothes came from those giant piles of clothes which had been sitting in your room for years?

One pair of pants, one T-shirt, and zero socks. I also decided to keep a few items from the pile as raw materials for projects, and one jacket.

You haven’t done a KonMari on your jackets yet?

No, but I only have four jackets, so I suppose I could throw them in a pile and KonMari them right now.

*goes away to KonMari jackets*

I’m keeping three of those jackets, and letting go of one. I used to love wearing that last jacket, but it’s been more than a year since I last wore it, and I don’t think I’ll want to wear it again. It was just about the only item of clothing I had that I actually used (as opposed to having buried in a large pile) which was made in the U.K., but oh well. If my tastes change and I want to wear that style of jacket again, I could easily get a similar one in better condition.

But you haven’t completely finished the clothing category?

No, I haven’t finished the clothing category yet.

Why not?

Because I haven’t quite gotten around to it yet. I will soon, very soon, just … not yet. Also, there are a few items of clothing which I have classified as ‘raw materials for sewing/dyeing projects’ so even though they are still in my possession they are not part of my ‘clothing’ collection right now.

Since sewing became one of my major hobbies about a year and half ago, I was at first tempted to hold back a lot more clothing as ‘raw materials for projects’ but I realized I would never have enough time to use all of them, but even worse, I would be trying to fit projects to the materials instead of fitting materials to the projects (in my experience: it is much better to first figure out the goal of a project, and THEN choose materials). Thus, I only keep items for use as raw material if they fit well with specific sewing / dyeing projects I am contemplating.

Are you putting all of your tidying up time into clothes?

No. I’m still working on a ‘pre-KonMari’ sweep of my bedroom. It’s an idea from the How to Get Your Shit Together blog/vlog. Before doing the actual KonMari method, you go through an area and take out anything you obviously don’t want. This not only makes sorting much faster when going through the KonMari method (less stuff to sort), and frees up space right away, it also means that I figure out what I actually have in my room and where it is.

I’ve already found a number of ‘lost’ items this way. That includes one item which my father had spent a long time searching for – it turns out that he never found it no matter how much time he spent because he never searched my room (meanwhile, when I stumbled upon that item, my first reaction was ‘what the heck, I don’t remember owning anything like this!’ My second reaction was ‘maybe my dad knows how to use this thing, I’ll ask him.’)

I haven’t finished the pre-KonMari sweep of my room, but I do want to finish that before I formally finish the ‘clothing’ category in case I dig up a few more random items of clothing. But I think I’ll finish the pre-KonMari sweep within a week.

By far the most labor intesive part of the pre-KonMari sweep was going through those large piles of clothes, and that is done.

You consider going through those large piles of clothes ‘pre-KonMari’?

Yep. There was no way I was going to put all of those clothes in one big pile and sort them out in a single session. And even though I have finally gotten the quantity of clothing in my room to a reasonable level and it would be feasible to put ALL of my clothing in a single pile, I still prefer working at the subcategory level.

How did you go about sorting?

I inspected Every. Single. Item. I looked at what it was, I checked for damage, I'd look at the materials and country of origin. 99% of the clothing I did not want to keep (and a few items I otherwise would have kept were the wrong size for me). Because my mother requested all clothing which was in her size, I sent any clothing in good condition which may fit her to her, and she would then tell me whether or not it actually fit (if it didn't fit, she returned it to me). Then, I would divide the discard clothes into 'good condition' (sell or donate, mostly donate but I did sell a few items of clothing), or 'bad condition' clothes (recycling).

You managed to sell some of those clothes?

I know, I was surprised too. I was most proud of the damaged item of clothing I managed to sell.

You sold damaged clothing??!!

Well, I mended it first. It felt good to sell off clothing which, without my mending job, would have gone to recycling (though realistically, it’s either going to sit in a closet/storage for a long time, or it will go to recycling/landfill soon anyway, because the seams are weak and it cannot withstand much wear and tear).

You checked country of origin? Why?

I was curious, and it was interesting. There were a lot of ‘made in U.S.A.’ clothes, much more than ‘made in China’ which surprised me. That said, there was plenty of ‘made in Hong Kong’ and ‘made in Macau’ clothing. It warmed my heart a bit whenever I found ‘made in Taiwan’ clothing, and I wondered which town in Taiwan it came from, and what kind of Taiwanese person had made it. There was also plenty of ‘made in India’ clothing, as well as various other Asian countries (Japan was conspicuously missing) (I know my mother has had ‘made in Japan’ clothing but maybe it has been discarded or it is being stored somewhere else in the house). There was also quite a bit of clothing made in the Middle East and Europe, as well as a little from South America (particularly Peru), and some from Central America / the Caribbean (particularly the Dominican Republic). I did not find any clothing from Oceania (Australia / New Zealand / etc.).

Did you find clothing made in Africa?

Lesotho and Egypt.

What was the most unusual country of origin you found?

Yugoslavia, because it no longer exists as a country. I found two items of clothing from Yugoslavia. And it was the only Slavic country of origin I found.

Why did you check the materials?

Since I have gotten interested in fabric crafts, I was curious about the various materials and how they felt. There were a lot of cottons, a lot of cotton/polyester blends, and a surprising amount of rayon. There were some silks, almost all of the wools were in bad shape, some spandex blends, and a little bit of linen, nylon, and ramie. (I also had one dress made of lyocel, but that had been hanging in my closet, not sitting in a pile, and I had received it as a gift a long time ago, it had never belonged to my mother).

Also, if I was going to sell or donate the clothing, I needed to wash it first, and I had to check what was the appropriate way to clean them. I refused to do dry cleaning, so ‘dry clean only’ clothes either went to recycling or to the washing machine (and if they got messed up in the washing machine, they went to recycling), but I sorted out cold wash vs. warm wash, normal cycle vs. gentle cycle, etc. For a while, I was going to the laundromat almost every day. I did not keep track of how much money I was spending on the laundromat to clean these clothes for donation/sale, but I’m sure it was more than 70 USD.

More than 70 USD to wash all of those clothes! And that is without washing the clothes going to recycling??!!

Yep. And no, I did not receive 70 USD from the small amount of clothing I managed to sell. This has been a net money-loser for me (at least as far as clothes).

I also found a layer of clothes which I figured out were the clothes my mother wore in the 1970s. I later confirmed this in conversation. Apparently she had trouble letting go of them because of her memories, but she can’t wear them any more, so she hoped that I would wear them for her (I don’t mind 70s fashion, but I also don’t want to wear it myself, and I think it was unreasonable for her to expect her daughter to be into 70s fashion). It was mildly interesting to look at the clothes for a few seconds, but that’s all of the value they had to me.

I did feel a little bad that I was, in a way, discarding my mother’s youth, but I was also angry that she had dumped this responsibility on me. And when I mentioned that I could save some of these clothes if she really wanted them, she said that she no longer looks at them herself so there is no need to keep them. I figured out that it was easier, emotionally, for me to discard them because, unlike my mom, I don’t have a sentimental attachment to them. I hope they end up in the hands of a 70s enthusiast.

You’re making a lot of this about your mother. But some of the mess in your room was caused by your own bad habits.


Want to talk more about that?


C’mon, describe ONE bad habit that created mess in your room.

Fine. I like to drink a lot of tea (including herbal tea). For a while, I was too lazy to always put the teabags out in the composting, and as the pile got bigger and clearing it would become more of an effort, my laziness got more in the way. I eventually figured out this was a problem, so I became diligent about putting tea bags in compost as soon as I finished using them. That stopped the accumulation of old tea bags, but did not remove the dried-out old tea bags which were already in my room.

This post is getting long. Any final thoughts you want to share?

My goal is to finish the KonMari process on my room and all of my belongings by May 1st. That does not include cleaning (as opposed to tidying) my room, but if I can also get my room completely cleaned by May 1st that would be nice. My goal is, from now on, to have all of my possessions stored in my room (unless I have a compelling reason to store them elsewhere – for example, my food will still be stored in the kitchen/pantry), and to have none of my parents’ possessions in my room (I may make exceptions for family heirlooms).

What about the rest of the house?

As long as it’s not hazardous, I don’t give a damn how untidy/cluttered my parents’ rooms are. And I only care about clutter in the common use areas if a) it’s hazardous or b) it gets in my way.

Some people make a big deal about how difficult it is to do the KonMari process when other people in the household are not participating. They usually mean that they wish their housemates would do more tidying up. I don’t especially care whether or not my parents tidy up, so that’s not a problem for me. In the beginning, the problem was persuading my mother not to interfere with the tidying of my own space, but now that’s resolved, doing the KonMari process even though the people I live with are not doing it is just as easy as doing it in a place where I live alone.

In fact, if my parents are going to take up KonMari, Swedish Death Cleaning, or some other decluttering fad, I hope they’ll do it AFTER I’m done with my area, because they would probably ask me to help them, and I’m busy enough with my own room right now.

I confess there are a few places in the common areas where the clutter does get a little in my way. Even though it’s not a big deal (otherwise I would have acted sooner) I would like to get around to clearing out those places. I expect my parents will cooperate if I agree to do most of the work.

Sara, you’re only allowed to express ONE more thought, then this blog post will be over.

I know that most Americans who start the KonMari method never finish. I may very well be one of those Americans who never complete it. But I’ve already made progress which allows me to feel happier in my room. Even if I end up dropping out, I do not think I will regret the effort I have already put into it.

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